Trek to heart of the Lace Market
F UNERAL For A Friend? Are they still going? A surprisingly common question among 21st-century rock fans. The answer, of course, is yes, and the Welshmen have just begun their tenth year in some style.
Conduit, the band's sixth studio album, was released last week to widespread acclaim and, for guitarist Kris Coombs-Roberts, it presented the opportunity to go back to basics and bring a little more enjoyment back into their music.
"I think we just stopped over-thinking everything that we were doing and we just started writing songs for ourselves, the music that we enjoy playing the most and the music that we enjoy listening to the most," says the 31-year-old.
"We wanted to record something that we're going to want to go and play every night."
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There was, however, something that Kris wanted to keep as far away from Conduit as possible: the likelihood of him having to play lead guitar.
"I've only ever put one solo in a song, in Broken Foundations, and that was because I was near enough beaten into doing it by Gav and Rich (Burroughs and Boucher, guitar and bass respectively). I'd much rather be playing songs which are heavy and rhythm based."
The band have experienced a number of line-up changes in their career, the most recent seeing Ryan Richards depart from behind the kit to be replaced by former Rise To Remain drummer Pat Lundy, something Kris says was an easy change to make.
"We spent four or five months out on the road with Rise To Remain in 2011. Watching them every night you could see that he is an exceptional drummer and then we found out that he had left... it was a no-brainer, really.
"I think the way that Pat plays has influenced our sound very positively. He's technically brilliant. He's changed the feel of lots of the old songs – they've become more dramatic."
In a live career spanning hundreds of dates, the city holds a special place in the band's heart, after they discovered engineer and tour manager Richard Stafford deep in the Lace Market.
"The first time we ever played in Nottingham was at the Old Angel. The in-house sound guy at the time has become one of our really good friends," Kris says, before adding: "We've worked with him for years as a tour manager, all the way back to those early days. That was a memorable night."
After setting the UK's rock scene alight ten years ago with Casually Dressed And Deep In Conversation, the band found themselves fading into comparative obscurity later in the decade.
The release of Memory And Humanity in 2008 saw the band slump further, and Kris is happy to admit that it wasn't their finest hour.
"I think that we rushed Memory And Humanity – that record could definitely have been a lot better than it was. After that I think the band started to get a little bit lost."
However, Kris credits the Funeral's revival to the arrival of aforementioned bullies Boucher and Burroughs. He is adamant that this change proved to be a turning point in the band's fortunes.
"With Rich and Gav coming in, we started to find our feet again and with Conduit, I feel like we're in the best place we've ever been as a band."